The Canadian Constitution Foundation was granted intervener status in a novel case at the Ontario Superior Court about the constitutionality of Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system. The CCF argued that the system is constitutional. The case was heard in Ontario Divisional Court September 26-28, 2023.

First-past-the-post voting (FPTP) is Canada’s electoral system, inherited from Great Britain. Under this system, winning candidate does not need to win a majority, they just need to receive more votes than anyone else. Two organizations – Springtide and Fair Voting BC – brought a constitutional challenge to the system. They argued that the FPTP system violates the Charter guaranteed right to vote and the right to equality because citizens do not have equal voting power: votes for a losing candidate are “wasted”. These advocacy groups also argue that FPTP discriminates against women and minorities by contributing to their under representation.

The CCF will be argued that the system does not violate the constitution, and indeed, that provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867, establish Canada’s FPTP system by creating a system of constituency-based representation for the House of Commons where each electoral district is represented by a single Member of Parliament. The simple fact is that whether FPTP is politically unfair is not an issue for courts: it is a policy question.

Victory: The Canadian Constitution Foundation is pleased that an Ontario court agreed with the CCF’s arguments in a decision that finds the first-past-the-post system of voting is constitutional. Our full release can be found here.